BILLIONAIRE mining entrepreneur, Robert Friedland, put the boot into Chile and its established major copper mining groups.
Friedland, whose company Ivanhoe Mines is developing major new copper and zinc mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said at the Mining Indaba last week: “It’s absolutely silly to think that Chile is a safe place to mine and should have a three or four per cent discount rate and, somehow, the DRC should have a 12% discount rate.
“There’s this fiction that somehow Africa is dangerous and it’s safe for industry to go to Chile or Peru. I challenge that. I would rather be in Africa – in the DRC – which was the world’s largest producer of copper until Chile got invented in the 1970’s.”
Friedland said not enough copper was being discovered to meet future demand and commented: “… at a minimum we will have a six million ton a year deficit in the next decade and the copper price will perform exactly the same as the palladium price as the world electrifies”.
“The great copper mines in Chile are like little old ladies laying in bed waiting to die. The biggest copper mine in the world (Escondida) – which belongs to Rio Tinto and BHP – had an average resource grade of 1.72% only 12 years ago and today the remaining resource grade is 0.52%.